Awareness of symptoms gives heart attack victims chance of longer life
By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer
When a local man suffered a heart attack on Father's Day, he asked if he "could get a message out to those tough-as-nails country folk, who are destined to die, because they don't want to go to a doctor."
David Jureczki had just finished organizing and participating in the Bandera All Class Reunion a couple of weeks earlier and, after taking care of the wrap-up for that big event, was looking forward to spending Father's Day weekend relaxing and visiting with his son and family.
"The symptoms began as I was enjoying the cool morning outdoors, doing something that I loved to do," said Jurezcki. Having experienced "heart issues" since 2001, Jurezcki was painfully aware of what the symptoms of a heart attack are.
Most importantly, he paid attention.
"I paid attention to the gentle tightness that felt a little like heartburn...took an aspirin and spent the next few minutes evaluating what it was I was feeling," said Jurezcki. "The last thing I wanted to do was to ruin my planned day visiting with my son. But I needed to look past this short-term selfishness. My son and family would appreciate my being around a little longer, so I paid attention."
Jurezcki decided to head to the ER. "The pressure increased at times and diminished, and it would have been easy to not go to the ER. I was tempted to go back home."
Once in the ER, Jurezcki was quickly evaluated and examined. He soon got the word that he was having a heart attack and heard the phrase "100 percent blocked."
Jurezcki describes himself as only mildly overweight, active on a daily basis with running, cycling and working out, and eating healthy most of the time.
"Having had four major events since 2001 and surviving is a testimony to awareness," said Jurezcki, "and this is my message to my friends and family - be aware!"
He added that people "would be surprised at how healthy one can appear and still have an underlying cardio issue. There has been no daily struggle, and I even walked myself into the ER and laid myself on the gurney."
He stayed in the hospital for two days following his surgery, which he watched on the monitors as his damaged arteries were repaired.
Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. Some victims suffer a shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort.
Signs of a heart attack may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
While some heart attacks are sudden and intense, like the "movie heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening, most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort, as did Jurezcki's.
People affected often aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help.
Immediately call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number so an ambulance can be sent for you.
Learn the signs, but remember this:
Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, have it checked out by a doctor.
Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive - up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped.
"I am fortunate to have again survived with no damage and I want to share this information with others," said Jurezcki, who is back to doing light activities and on the way to full recovery. "You are loved by those around you, and with awareness and intervention, you will be there for them until God decides otherwise."